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Equinet - European network of equality bodies

Equality bodies are required to provide independent assistance to victims of discrimination. This assistance can involve a range of activities including :

  • providing information about the existence of anti-discrimination laws and about the possibility to take legal action to seek remedy or compensation for an act of discrimination;
  • providing information about the existence of anti-discrimination laws and about the possibility to take legal action to seek remedy or compensation for an act of discrimination;
  • helping people who experience discrimination to come to an amicable settlement/mutual agreement (mediation) with the alleged perpetrators;
  • giving legal advice and representing in front of the courts people who have been discriminated;
  • acting as amicus curiae or third-party intervener
  • Investigating and hearing discrimination complaints as a quasi-judicial body and deciding on the merits of the case, either with a legally binding or a legally non-binding decision.

Three different types of equality bodies are referred to by Equinet and others: tribunal type equality bodies, promotion type equality bodies and combined tribunal-type and promotion-type equality bodies.

Predominantly tribunal type equality bodies spend the bulk of their time and resources on hearing, investigating and deciding on individual instances of discrimination brought before them. Some can and do take on certain promotional functions alongside these activities.

Predominantly promotion type equality bodies spend the bulk of their time and resources on supporting good practices, raising awareness of rights, developing a knowledge base on equality and providing legal advice and assistance to victims of discrimination.

A third type of equality body can be identified as a combination of tribunal-type and promotion-type bodies. They hear, investigate and decide on cases of discrimination, but also implement a range of activities to raise awareness, support good practice and conduct research.